Cranach - Portrait of a Man
Portrait of a Man
Circle of Lucas Cranach the Elder
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
06.12.2021 - 11:42
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Painting:
CDA ID / Inventory NumberUS_MMANY_32-100-61
Persistent Linkhttps://lucascranach.org/US_MMANY_32-100-61
FR (1978) No.FRSup017
Title:
Portrait of a Man[Cat. New York 2013, 88, No. 19]
Attribution:
Circle of Lucas Cranach the Elder[Cat. New York 2013, 88, No. 19]
Dating:
1538[datiert]
Owner / Repository / Location:
OwnerThe Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
RepositoryThe Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
LocationNew York
Dimensions:
Dimensions of support: 55.9 × 42.4 × 0.64 cm (22 × 16 11/16 × 1/4 in.)
Dimensions of painted surface: 53.3 × 40 cm (21 × 15 3/4 in.)

[Cat. New York 2013, 88, No. 19]
Support:
Painting on alder wood
[Cat. New York 2013, 88, No. 19]
Inscriptions, Marks, Labels, Seals:
Original Inscriptions:
Inscribed and dated at top, left of centre:
'm.d.xxxviii / xlv'[1]

[1] The last few numerals in the first line and all those in the second are heavily abraded. The first line gives the date of the painting, the second probably the sitter's age of forty-five.

[Cat. New York 2013, 88, 292, No. 19]

Heraldry / emblems:
- on signet ring on index finger of left hand:
green shield charged with an orange sunburst, surmounted by initials 'm[?]ld' in mirror image

[Cat. New York 2013, 88, No. 19]
Inscriptions, Marks, Labels, Seals:
Reverse of the panel:
(on cradle):
- in centre:
in red wax on paper, unidentified collector's seal
- at upper right:
in pen and ink on round paper decal, '6080'
- at upper centre and right:
stamped four times in ink, 'douane' [...]
- at lower centre:
stamped in ink, jpl / [...] 01 [...]
- left of centre:
letterpress-printed on paper, imported from France
- left of centre:
in white chalk, xxx
- at centre right:
in red paint, 32.100.61

[Cat. New York 2013, 88, No. 19]
Description:
This half-length portrait dated 1538 shows a man forty-five years of age.[1] He is seated before a dark green curtain that is drawn back from the right to reveal a castle on a rocky crag. His black coat opens at the chest, showing a white, pleated undershirt embroidered with gold at the neck and fastened with two black bows. A gold chain necklace is tucked beneath his black shirt. Several rings adorn his left
hand, including a signet ring displaying a coat of arms with a sunburst and initials in mirror image that appear to read MLD (fig. 71).[2]
The coat-of-arms has not been identified. The black cap with earflaps suggests that he was a scholar; the D in his initials may refer to a doctoral degree.[3] Citrus fruits like the orange in the sitter's hands were luxury items at the time and could convey social distinction in portraits; in the Christian context they bore connotations of purity, fertility, and eternal life meanings that could carry over into secular portraiture.[4] If the present work had a female pendant, which is quite possible, the orange as a symbol of fertility would have been especially appropriate.[5]

[1] The date of 1537 given in Friedländer and J. Rosenberg 1978, p. 162, no. Sup 17, omits the last numeral in the abraded date inscription. On the sitter's age, see note 1 under inscription.
[2] For other examples of portraits with mirror-image initials on signet rings, see Bernhard Strigel, Hans Roth, 1527, National Gallery of Art, Washington [Hand, Cat. Washington 1993, 167-173, fig. 1]; and Barthel Bruyn the Elder, Peter Heyman, ca. 1540-45, Städel Museum, Frankfurt (Bodo Brinkmann in Brinkmann and Kemperdick, Cat. Frankfurt 2005, 85-92, figs. 64, 70].
[3] See, for example, the initials HSD (for Heinrich Stromer, Doctor) on the background and, in mirror image, on the signet ring of Heinrich Stromer, a portrait of 1527 by the same artist (private collection; [Friedländer, Rosenberg 1978, 162, no. Sup 16]; See also Dieter Koepplin in [Exhib. Cat. Basel 1974, vol. 2, p. 693, no. 617].
[4] See Kepetzis 2011, especially p. 138.
[5] For a portrait pair with an orange held by the male sitter, see Bernhard Strigel, Hans Roth and Margarethe Vöhlin, 1527, National Gallery of Art, Washington [Hand, Cat. Washington 1993, 167-173, Fig.].

[Cat. New York 2013, 88, 292, No. 19]
Provenance:
- [Lindemann, Vienna, in 1927]
- [Rothschild Bros., London, 1928]
- James P. Cabey (1928; sold to Kleinberger) [1]
- [Kleinberger, New York, 1928 - 30]
- [sold to Friedsam]
- Michael Friedsam, New York (1930 - d. 1931)
- The Friedsam Collection, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931

[1] According to Kleinberger gallery stock card, no. 15,912 (curatorial files, Department of European Paintings, MMA).

[Cat. New York 2013, 88, 292, No. 19]
Exhibitions:
New York 1928, p. 18, no. 32, ill. p. 23
New York 1929, p. 8, no. 23
New York 1932 - 33
Sources / Publications:
Reference on PageCatalogue NumberFigure/Plate
Cat. New York 201388-90No. 19
Cat. New York 1995223Fig.
Tacke 199262-63
Lübbeke 199164, Fn. 2
Cat. New York 198037 (Vol. 1)Fig. p. 297 (Vol. 2)
Friedländer, Rosenberg 1979No. Sup. 17
Davenport 1948396 (Vol. 1)No. 1053Fig.
Cat. New York 1947206-207Fig.
Exhib. Cat. Cambridge, Mass. 193644144
Friedländer, Rosenberg 193298367Fig.
Freund 1929333Fig. p. 326
Kleinberger Gallery 1928 A5
Kleinberger Gallery 1928 B1Fig. 2
Mather 1928310
Interpretation / History / Discussion:
This portrait appeared in two dealers’ exhibitions in New York in the late 1920s, where it was attributed to Lucas Cranach the Elder on the advice of Max J. Friedländer and Wilhelm Valentiner.[1] In their 1932 catalogue raisonné of Cranach’s paintings, however, Friedländer and Jakob Rosenberg recognized a divergence from the style of Cranach himself and attributed this portrait along with four others to the Master of the Masses of Saint Gregory (Meister der Gregorsmessen), a painter from Cranach’s studio who worked extensively for Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg.[2] The Metropolitan Museum’s internal cataloguing from 1947 onward situated the portrait within the Cranach workshop.[3] Andreas Tacke upheld Friedländer and Rosenberg’s attribution to the Master of the Masses of Saint Gregory, whom Tacke proposed to identify as the painter Simon Franck, who is documented in the service of Albrecht of Brandenburg.[4] Isolde Lübbeke, however, pointed out significant stylistic differences between the name paintings of the Master of the Masses of Saint Gregory and the group of portraits that includes this one. Maintaining rightly that the “exaggerated plasticity” of the Mass of Saint Gregory pictures is inconsistent with the style of the portrait group, she reassigned the latter, to which she added further examples, to an anonymous painter in Cranach’s circle.[5] Technical examination of the present work (see technical notes) shows furthermore that some aspects of the paint layering, for example in the curtain and the finger rings, are uncharacteristic of standard practices of the Cranach workshop.
The group of portraits to which the Metropolitan Museum’s panel belongs now consists of at least ten known works spanning the second quarter of the sixteenth century (1525 – 48), which show a remarkable consistency of style and composition.[6] Although the artist was clearly influenced by the style of Cranach, portraits produced by the Cranach workshop exhibit a greater variety of pose, expression, and motifs. As Lübbeke noted, the almost unwavering adherence to a strict formula suggests a painter operating independently of Cranach. Without exception, the sitters in these works strike a rigidly upright pose. Their hands are almost always crossed one over the other, but rarely are they actually folded together. The expressions tend to be wide-eyed and vacuous. In the early portraits, the sitters’ irises are nearly covered by exaggerated windowpane catchlights, but beginning in the 1530s those reflections diminish or no longer appear. Frequently, as in the Museum’s portrait, the garments are fastened at the neck with black bows. In the earliest works, a green curtain covers the whole background; from 1528 onward, the curtain is pulled aside to reveal a landscape. The artist’s treatment of forms initially displayed a certain smoothness and softness, which in the 1530s gave way to a harder, more severely linear style. In the Museum’s portrait, which belongs to the later period, the impression of hardness and flatness is exaggerated by extensive abrasion of the paint layers.
The artist responsible for these portraits appears to have remained active within the regional orbit of Cranach, for the one identified sitter in the group is the University of Leipzig professor Heinrich Stromer.[7] The unidentified painter may have had a career comparable to that of Antonius Heusler, who, after presumably training under Cranach, established himself independently in the mining town of Annaberg, in Saxony, in 1525.[8]

[1]New York 1928, p. 18, no. 32; New York 1929, p. 8, no. 23. The opinions (Max J. Friedländer, Berlin, April 29, 1927, and Berlin, February 16, 1928; Wilhelm R. Valentiner, Detroit, March 8, 1928) are preserved on the backs of old photographs (curatorial files, Department of European Paintings, MMA).
[2] Friedländer and J. Rosenberg 1932, p. 98, no. 367; Friedländer and J. Rosenberg 1978, p. 162, no. Sup 17. The four other portraits are Friedländer and J. Rosenberg 1932, p. 98, nos. 365 (two paintings), 366, 368 (Friedländer and J. Rosenberg 1978, pp. 161 – 62, nos. Sup 15, 15A, 16, 18). The attribution is repeated by Kuhn in [Exhib. Cat. Cambridge Mass. 1936, p. 44, no. 144.]
For the name paintings of the Master of the Masses of Saint Gregory now in the Staatsgalerie Aschaffenburg and the Stiftskirche, Aschaffenburg (Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, inv. nos. 6270, 6271), see Friedländer and J. Rosenberg 1978, p. 161, nos. Sup 11, Sup 12, ill.; Martin Schawe in [Exhib. Cat. Aschaffenburg 2007, pp. 270 – 71, 273, 306 – 8, nos. 14, 51, ill.]
[3] Wehle and Salinger in [Cat. New York 1947, pp. 206 – 7]; Baetjer in [Cat. New York 1980, vol. 1, p. 37]; Baetjer [Cat. New York 1995, p. 223].
[4] Tacke 1992, pp. 62 – 63.
[5] Lübbeke 1991, p. 64.
[6] Portrait of a Woman Aged Twenty-Six, 1525, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid (Friedländer and J. Rosenberg 1978, p. 161, no. Sup 15A); Portrait of a Man Aged Twenty-Nine, 1526, private collection (Friedländer and J. Rosenberg 1978, p. 161, no. Sup 15, ill., showing state before strip cut off bottom, removing hands; Sotheby’s, London, July 6, 2000, no. 4; Koller, Zürich, March 27, 2009, no. 3008); Portrait of a Man Aged Thirty-Six, 1526, Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum, Aachen (Lübbeke 1991, p. 64, n. 2); Heinrich Stromer, 1527, private collection (Friedländer and J. Rosenberg 1978, p. 162, no. Sup 16, ill.); Portrait of a Man with a Floral Diadem, 1527, private collection (Christie’s, London, July 8, 2008, no. 11); Portrait of a Woman Aged Twenty-Two, 1528, Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh (Lübbeke 1991, p. 64, fig. 1); Portrait of a Man Aged Fifty-Seven, 1541, Portrait of a Woman Aged Thirty-Nine, 1538, a pair, State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg; Portrait of a Man Aged Forty-One, 1543, private collection (Friedländer and J. Rosenberg 1978, p. 162, no. Sup 18, ill.); Portrait of a Man Aged Thirty-Nine, Portrait of a Woman Aged Twenty-Eight, 1544, a pair, private collection (Sotheby’s, London, July 6, 2000, no. 11; formerly Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne); Portrait of a Woman Aged Twenty-Six, 1548, private collection (London 1906, no. 4, pl. xxiv; acquired by the Metropolitan Museum in 1922, acc. no. 22.60.48, and deaccessioned in 1933). The portraits are of nearly the same size, with the exception of the female likeness in Madrid, which is somewhat taller and narrower than the rest.
[7] See, for example, the initials HSD (for Heinrich Stromer, Doctor) on the background and, in mirror image, on the signet ring of Heinrich Stromer, a portrait of 1527 by the same artist (private collection; Friedländer and J. Rosenberg 1978, p. 162, no. Sup 16; See also Dieter Koepplin in [Exhib. Cat. Basel 1974, vol. 2, p. 693, no. 617].
[8] On Heusler and other Cranach pupils, see Emmendörffer 1998, pp. 219 – 22 and passim, with references to earlier literature.

[Waterman, Cat. New York 2013, 88, 90, 292, No. 19]
Material / Technique:
  • Date: 2013
  • Technical examination / Scientific analysis
  • Light microscopy
  • Infrared reflectography
  • Circle of Lucas Cranach the Elder - The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York - Portrait of a Man - X-Radiographs
  • 8.01 Support
  • The support consists of three alder boards with the grain oriented vertically.[1] [...]
    Although the painting likely did not issue from the Cranach workshop, the panel dimensions are close to Heydenreich Format C.[2]

    [1] Wood identification by Peter Klein, Universität Hamburg (report, July 27, 2007, curatorial files, Department of European Paintings, MMA). Dating of the wood was not possible.
    [2] Heydenreich 2007b, p. 43.
  • 8.02 Ground and Imprimatura
  • An engaged frame was in place when the white ground was applied. Along the perimeter are unpainted wood borders, an incised line, and the remains of a barbe. […]
    Examination of the painting with magnification and X-radiography revealed the white ground and what may be a layer of priming containing lead white; however, that slightly radio-opaque layer does not display the typical horizontal banding that has been observed in paintings from the Cranach workshop.
  • 8.03 Underdrawing
  • Infrared reflectography did not detect any underdrawing or compositional changes.[1]

    [1] IRR carried out with configuration A; see p. 276.
  • 8.04 Paint Layers and Gilding
  • While the painting technique is typical of the period, it is not entirely characteristic of Cranach’s workshop. For example, the trees are executed in a systematic manner somewhat similar to the workshop’s practice, but the green curtain is not. The rings were not executed using the workshop’s usual techniques.
    Examination of the inscription with the stereomicroscope revealed coarse yellow particles that display a structure characteristic of the pigment orpiment. Similar particles are also present in the chain, orange, rings, and embroidered collar.[1] The presence of orpiment was confirmed with analysis.[2]

    [1] Fitz Hugh 1997, p. 56.
    [2] Gunnar Heydenreich’s extensive study of paintings associated with the Cranach workshop mentions only one analyzed painting in which orpiment was detected, Elector Friedrich III, the Wise (Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg); Heydenreich 2007b, p. 133. Unusual features of the support of the Nuremberg painting and other factors suggest that it was not produced by the Cranach workshop but is rather a later copy.
  • 8.05 Framing
  • Not original

    [Cat. New York 2013, 88, 292, No. 19]
      • Date: 02. 2008
      • Technical examination / Scientific analysis
      • X-radiography
      • Circle of Lucas Cranach the Elder - The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York - Portrait of a Man - X-Radiographs
      • 8.07
          Condition Reports:
          • Date: 2013
          • Circle of Lucas Cranach the Elder - The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York - Portrait of a Man - Reverse
          • The panel has been thinned to 0.64 centimeter and cradled. [...]

            The painting's condition is poor. It is severely abraded throughout from harsh cleaning. Along the edges of the cracks in the thinly painted flesh and sky, the paint has been removed down to the ground layer. There are large losses and repairs in the costume and several scratches in the face and hands.

            [Cat. New York 2013, 88, No. 19]